Convention Q&A: Good Leaders Forge Good Relationships

The key to being a leader, to helping achieve the goal of better healthcare at lower costs, is to foster good relationships. That was a finding of a recent study of leadership in HIM. During AHIMA’s 86th Annual Convention and Exhibit next week in San Diego, CA, Patty Thierry Sheridan, MBA, RHIA, FAHIMA, president of Care Communications, Inc.and a past-president of AHIMA (2012), and Valerie J. M. Watzlaf, PhD, RHIA, FAHIMA, on the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh in the Department of Health Information Management and the Graduate School of Public Health, and past-chair of the AHIMA Foundation’s Council for Excellence in Education, will discuss the study and how to lead healthcare professionals to embrace today’s challenges and thrive. Their session, “HIM Leaders and the Practice of Leadership,” will take place Wednesday, October 1, at 11:15 a.m.

This week, Sheridan shared some thoughts on what good leadership looks like with the Journal of AHIMA.


Patty Thierry Sheridan, MBA, RHIA, FAHIMA

Patty Thierry Sheridan, MBA, RHIA, FAHIMA

What does leadership mean in HIM?

HIM leadership is the pathway to ensuring that the HIM profession survives, thrives, and contributes to the greater good. Healthcare organizations need HIM leadership to light a path to the quality health information needed to achieve better healthcare at lower cost.

It’s easy to think of leadership as only for those with an executive or management title, but we are all responsible for exercising leadership, regardless of our position on the organization chart. I don’t think of leadership as a person or a position, but as a way of thinking and inspiring action. Leadership is reciprocal, not just in a leader/follower sense, but embedded in the interdependency of organizations.

This is a time for HIM professionals to reflect on what they value. Our values guide our behaviors in the workplace, in our families, and in the world in general. Without a clear sense of what we value and why, it’s very difficult to make a difference. And I think we all want to make a difference in some way.


Is leadership an important topic right now?

It may be the most important topic. The conversation about leadership is occurring across the entire healthcare system, and it’s needed from everyone in healthcare for the United States to achieve better care at lower cost.


Your session will discuss findings from a recent HIM leadership study. What was the impetus for the study?

My co-presenter, Valerie Watzlaf, and I wanted to study what HIM leadership “looks like” so we could articulate a vision for HIM leadership. The study explored the value HIM brings to an organization and the associated leadership behaviors.


Is there one ability or characteristic that HIM professionals can develop to be better leaders?

The study found that developing good relationships in our work systems is the key. Without good relationships, we can try to lead, but there will be no reciprocity, no one following.


Are you going to discuss anything in this session that you think will surprise attendees?

The study indicates that HIM directors and supervisors spend 80 percent of their time on management activities and only 20 percent on leadership. If those in authority positions are only spending 20 percent of their time on leadership activities, how will HIM professionals ever get to the proverbial table and solve the health data and information management problems of the day?

Catch up on the news and get insights from AHIMA’s 86th annual Convention and Exhibit held September 27-October 2 in San Diego, CA. For a complete list of event coverage on the Journal of AHIMA website, click here.


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